When I read the news or see the images of refugees pouring out of countries in the Middle East and Africa into camps in Europe my heart sinks. Hundreds of thousands of people are camped in desolate surroundings wondering if there is any hope for their future. Violence against them and destruction of their own homes and cities are the catalysts that drew them to a new land. However, the longer they stay in these camps, the more hopeless they become.
Those of us who have received new life by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ know hope and know that it is alive in Him. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (1 Peter 1:3)
The Lord has a plan. I think of what He says to Israel through the prophet Hosea: "Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor (trouble) a door of hope..." (Hosea 2:14-15) God will stop at nothing to bring the nations to salvation. Sometimes it takes bringing them into the desert place in order to capture their attention. When you have nothing, where does your hope come from? When you have no plan for your future you may as well listen to someone who gives you a word of hope centered on Jesus.
God has already set in motion a plan to bring many of the refugees of today into His Kingdom. One of the ways in which He does it is through Believers who are sold out of Him. I met with such a person this week. Diminutive in stature and quiet in voice, you might miss the fact that she has a heart like Esther in the Bible and the courage of a lion. Years ago God started to prepare her for the call on her life by speaking a word to her heart--"Transformed to Hope." She faithfully wrote it in her Bible next to the verses she had opened to: "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." (Proverbs 31:8-9) After years of preparation through schooling, helping on the mission field with her parents and waiting upon the Lord, the time has come for Erika Gokcen to launch out into a ministry to the refugees in France.
Erika is walking on an unknown path, but she is determined in her steps. She has seen firsthand the need for hope in the refugee camps. She found people who are hungry for the truth. They eagerly listen to the Gospel as she shares the hope she has in Jesus. Webster's New World Dictionary defines hope as a feeling that what is wanted will happen; a desire accompanied by expectation. But it is so much more to a Christian! Hope is actually a place of refuge and an anchor for the soul. (Hebrews 6:17-20) Hope is a person. (Colossians 1:27 and Titus 2:13) Hope leads us to perseverance and patience. (Romans 8:24-30) Hope is brought to us through endurance and encouragement of the Scriptures. (Romans 15:4) Hope abounds by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13) Hope rises as we recall God's faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21-25) Prophet and author Bob Hazlett puts it this way: "Hope is an expected end that will exceed your expectations."
Erika is being transformed into the likeness of the Lord with ever-increasing glory. (2 Corinthians 3:18) Her hope in the Lord is secure so she moves forward, trusting Him for every need. She knows that "Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are His house, if we hold onto our courage and the hope of which we boast." (Hebrews 3:6) If you are in the Valley of Achor, reach out for the Door of Hope. Hope is alive and well! And please, support and pray for Erika as she holds out the Word of life/hope from the Gospel. Also, please pray for those who will hear the truth--that God would work powerfully in their lives so that they are transformed to hope.
Joan E. Mathias